The etymology of the word Christmas pretty much requires you to remember the reason for the season. Christ derivates from the Greek Christos meaning anointed, and was the title bestowed upon Jesus of Nazareth by his followers, as he was seen as the Anointed Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews who would save them from oppression. Mass is another term for the holy sacrament Eucharist, the sharing of Christ’s body and blood (Holy Communion), as performed in both the Catholic, Protestant and any other church of the Christian Faith. Put them together and you get Christmas: The Holy Communion/Feast of the Anointed.
Whether Jesus was really born on the 25th of December or not isn’t really important (theologians claim it was more likely around March). It makes sense to celebrate his birth during the darkest time of the year, and most of the Church’s calendar and Feast Days has been superimposed over pagan festivals – when better to remember the light of life than during the depths of winter?
What’s really cool about going to Church on Christmas day, even if you aren’t religious, is that it manages to actually give a purpose to the mindless capitalism that has wrecked this holiday season. Christmas is a time of fellowship, a time of reflecting on life as being one that is full of light, of hope, of goodness. Sure sharing presents and breaking the bank are also enjoyable extras, but it’s a time, in the middle of what is generally a bleak midwinter, when we can reflect on what’s good in the world. When we can actually STOP, breathe, think and remember. When we are, in a way, forced to remind ourselves who and what we love and to show them. And for those that aren’t religious and don’t know the gift of grace and new life that Christ offers, it’s a time to wonder about the mystery of life, and the power of hope.